News – Page 5 – Pleni Naturals

Interview with Amy Ziff - Founder of MADE SAFE

Posted by Allyson Owens on

Creating a non-toxic home has been so important to me; especially since having kids. My eyes are now wide open to the thousands of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. It's completely overwhelming to learn/spend hours researching if a product is truly safe from harmful chemicals. I am so grateful for the amazing Amy Ziff, founder of the non-profit MADE SAFE for making it easy for consumers to know if a product is well, made safe and without nasty toxins!  MADE SAFE is the first non-toxic seal that screens products we use on a daily basis in our homes from personal care to baby products to household items and beyond! Amy's goal with MADE SAFE is to change the way products we use everyday are made for the better so we can all lead healthier lives! A little bit more about Amy:

Tell us a little about your story and why you started MADE SAFE?

I started Made Safe because I'm the Mom of twins who, when they were born, were allergic to seemingly everything! Even things I didn't know you could be allergic to, from creams to diapers to baby wash the hospital sent me home with, even a breast feeding pillow I used! At first I started trying to figure out what they were allergic to and stop their reactions, but what I ultimately learned was that the things we surround ourselves with on a daily basis can be filled with a multitude of harmful chemicals that impact our health and well-being. I also learned that the more you avoided these toxins, the more likely you were to increase your health and well-being. It seemed kind of obvious that a person would want to avoid carcinogenic ingredients as well as other ingredients linked to decreased neurological performance, fertility issues later in life, even obesity and diabetes ­– especially where kids are concerned. While I thought there must be someone guarding store shelves from toxic products, I learned that - in fact -  there is no single entity or agency responsible for doing that. I thought it was high time that changed, so I decided to do something about it. And that's when Made Safe was born. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with the MADE SAFE seal? 

There have been so many! We are very proud to be working with so many incredible brands, offering healthy solutions to concerned parents, and fostering change for the way products are being made in this country and around the world. 

What has been your biggest challenge? 

Our biggest challenge is to get the word out about our work when we have virtually no marketing budget. (Hint, spread the word to those you love so they can buy healthy products.) 

Tell us about your TEDx Talk!

I was invited to give a TEDx talk this year and it was one of the most intimidating things I've ever been asked to do! But the opportunity was awesome, and it was incredibly rewarding to share the MADE SAFE vision for a safe and sustainable future. [Watch for yourself and learn how you can help:]

What would be the first, most important baby product to switch, for a family new to transitioning to a nontoxic lifestyle?

I would say the most important thing to do is to make your next purchase nontoxic – that means whatever you have on your shopping list, see if you can find a nontoxic version. Since you're reading this we know you're already using some great bath and body products from Pleni – check out for another purchase.  

What does the future hold for MADE SAFE?

The future is bright! There's a lot going on behind the scenes that I can't talk about yet… But what I can say is we expect this to be a very exciting year! Stay tuned for more products, education and opportunities to help you create a healthy world for your family. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well, and subscribe to our email newsletter to hear all the news first! 

What are some favorite veggies in your home and how do you prepare them for your family?

We’re a veggie household. My kids have been eating them since they were babies and they still love them. I'm a firm believer that liking veggies is all about preparation. No one wants canned, mushy green beans! I roast almost every vegetable – from radishes to turnips to cauliflower – with olive oil and coarse salt at 350 degrees. 
 But here's my pro tip: We make pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin oatmeal, and even pumpkin chili! It's a way to get added veggies into our diets. Just follow recipe directions and add a cup of plain pumpkin purée while cooking - adjust seasonings as necessary. (For chili we use more pumpkin, but start small – the taste is a little “different" and picky palates may need to adjust!) 





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5 Tips for Treating Dry Winter Skin

Posted by Allyson Owens on


I know it isn’t winter yet (official date is December 21st) but it sure feels like winter, even here in Northern California! And wearing proper outerwear isn’t enough to protect your little people’s skin from the harsh weather. I find that it is best to be proactive during the winter months and once the temperature starts to drop, try these tips to keep your child’s skin safe from chafing, cracking or uncomfortable general dryness:

1. Regular, tepid, 20 minute bath soaks.  

This has been a serious game changer in our house, especially since the colder climate exacerbates my daughter’s already eczema-prone skin. I highly recommend these 20 minute bath soaks a few times a week with ONLY water (save the bubble baths for warmer weather or limit to 1-2 times per week) and then wash your little one ONLY right before you get him/her out of the water. The skin will be incredibly hydrated right after a bath soak and if the proper products are applied post bath, the added moisture will be sealed into the skin and will feel amazingly soft and smooth.

2. Humidifier in child’s bedroom.

Not only will a humidifier help with colds and nose bleeds, it can also help keep your child’s skin hydrated! At this time of year, families turn on the heat in their homes which takes moisture out of the air. A humidifier will put the much-needed moisture back in your child’s bedroom. We like this humidifier if you are in the market for a new one.

3. Use skin care products with Essential Fatty Acids.

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are fats our body doesn’t make on its own so we need to add this type of fat to our bodies; internally and externally! Topically, omega 3 and omega 6 EFA’s provide deep moisture to the skin but they are also anti-inflammatory (especially omega 3’s) and help protect and repair the skin’s natural lipid barrier (also called acid mantle or outer protective layer of the skin) from becoming weakened from environmental assault (caused by indoor heat, outdoor cold air, wind, etc.).  When looking at product labels, check for these powerhouse EFA’s: red raspberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil, chia seed oil, flaxseed oil and blackcurrant seed oil. Lotions, balms and oils containing these EFA’s are going to keep your child’s skin soothed, healthy and resilient.

4. Apply a rich, protective barrier to skin before leaving home.

Before heading out into the cold weather, make it part of your daily routine to apply a protective barrier balm to your child’s skin (and make sure it has those EFA's mentioned above. Our balm is a good choice). Apply the balm to your child’s lips, cheeks, hands and any other vulnerable area of the skin to provide an extra layer of protection from the elements. It will make a huge difference!

5. Use pH balanced skin care products.

I talk about pH balanced skin care in this blog post. To recap, pH balanced skin care products keep your child’s protective lipid barrier intact, which is especially important because young children’s lipid barrier is not as fully formed as an adult's, and this lipid barrier is already vulnerable to dryness, irritation and other skin issues. Stick to pH balanced skin care products to help keep the protective lipid layer optimal so it is up to the task of staying balanced, healthy and hydrated in extreme weather or dry heat.

These recommendations go for all members of the family who suffer from dry winter skin! In addition to my children, I apply a protective barrier balm to my lips and hands before I leave the house every day during the winter months (and every day, in general, to my lips!). I am sure some of these tips are common sense but as busy parents, we could all use reminders now and then. Give these tips a try and let me know what you think!


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Pleni Naturals and Mama Made Shop Guide 2016

Posted by Allyson Owens on

Pleni Naturals is included in the Mama Made Shop Guide this holiday season and we couldn't be more thrilled!

Mama Made it is an online resource that not only supports small businesses, but MAMA owned small businesses! What a fantastic destination to find products and services by mom bosses while uplifting and inspiring other mamas. We absolutely love this platform and hope you will check it out!

Happy Holidays and don't forget to shop small this holiday season!

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Green Festival Panel Discussion Recap

Posted by Allyson Owens on

I was honored to be on stage this past Saturday at the Green Festival in San Francisco with some amazing female entrepreneurs who are changing the face of the beauty industry! Amy Ziff, Founder and Executive Director of MADE SAFE led a panel discussion titled, "The Beauty Industry Comes Clean: How to Avoid Being Greenwashed". Myself, along side Hilary Peterson, Founder of True Botanicals and Rachel Pachivas, COO at Annmarie Skincare provided the audience with some great tips of what to look out for when purchasing skin care products and how to avoid being greenwashed. Here are four points I had prepared and discussed on the panel:

  • Stay away from fragrance. It is one of the biggest toxic offenders! Also, if a skin care product doesn't fully disclose its fragrance blend on the ingredient label it is best to leave that product on the shelf. We need more transparency in the skin care industry so consumers can make educated decisions on the products they buy and for their health! Instead, purchase products from companies that use pure essential oils to fragrance their products.
  • If a product has water in the formula and the label claims "no preservatives" you are being greenwashed. There is no way a product with water in it would be safe for consumers to use without preservatives. When water is present, microbes such as fungus, yeast and mold WILL grow unless it is inhibited from preservatives. Look for safe preservatives on ingredient labels without parabens! Or, if you really don't like preservatives in your products, purchase waterless formulas.
  • Choose sunscreens that ONLY use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as sunscreen filters. Some companies will claim their sunscreen is "natural" or "mineral based" but when you flip the sunscreen over and read the ingredient label there are chemical sunscreen filters included such as avobenzone or oxybenzone (there are others, too). Stay away from these chemicals! Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the safest sunscreen filters available at the moment.
  • If you don't have time to get your degree in chemistry so you can analyze every ingredient label, look for a trusted third party certification seal on the products you purchase like the MADE SAFE seal. Third party certification from a trusted source means the homework has been done for you and if a product has the MADE SAFE seal on their products, it is safe to use and will not be harmful to human heath or the environment. It also means that the product you are using is upheld to a higher standard in the skin care industry, which is highly unregulated!
I look forward to speaking at future conferences about how Pleni Naturals is doing things different and better than the existing standard in the skin care industry and why third party certification is so important for protecting our health!
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How To Get Kids To Eat More Veggies

Posted by Allyson Owens on


I am a parent who wants my kids to eat more veggies. But I also want my kids to WANT to eat more veggies. I am sure I am not alone here! Here is what we are currently doing in our house to encourage more veggie eating:

 Ask Questions - Why didn’t you eat it? Too soft? Too hard? Maybe your child just prefers his carrots cooked as opposed to raw or visa versa. Maybe it’s just that your child doesn’t like carrots cut into little sticks. I know lots of kids who prefer their veggies cooked but guess what? Not mine. Raw all the way. That’s fine by me because veggies and hummus as a dip is both healthy and absolutely delicious! And peanut butter with celery or carrots disappears off my kids’ plate every. single. time.

 Get Them Involved - Have your kids peel the carrots and cucumbers (with supervision, of course) or have them add the veggies to the dish or smoothie you are making. If a child is involved in the preparation process they are more invested and willing to give that new veggie a try.

 Provide Variety - Does your child only willingly eat 2 or 3 veggies? Make sure the familiar veggie is also on the plate when introducing a new veggie. If a familiar veggie is available it won’t be so hard to get your child to try something new. New veggie wasn’t a hit with the kiddos? I tell my kids, “That’s ok. Maybe you don’t have the taste bud yet for (insert veggie name here). I know you will grow the taste bud in time because mommy has the taste bud for (insert veggie name here) and I love it!”

 Set the Example - If you eat lots of veggies, most likely your kids will, too. I try to have a veggie on my plate at every meal. Avocado on toast for breakfast (I’m obsessed) or sauteed spinach over brown rice with a fried egg on top, bean burrito for lunch with a guacamole spread and cherry tomatoes, and no matter what I make for dinner there is always a salad. I am making myself hungry just writing this! Plus, we are always making pressed juices and smoothies over here and we always add plenty of veggies. At this point, my daughter assumes there is spinach in all of her smoothies! ;)

 Plant A Garden - If you plant it, your kids will pick it and eat it! Make sure the kiddos help plant the garden and help with upkeep because the more invested they are in the process, the more likely they are to try that new veggie. We are big fans of gardens at home but also think school gardens  are important. They really solidify the connection with kids and vegetables (and their natural world, too!). If your child’s school doesn’t have a school garden and the teachers/school are behind starting one, check out Life Lab, a non-profit that not only helps provide the means to plant a school garden but also provides the curriculum and educator professional development to support the school garden. We are huge fans of the important work Life Lab is doing and think every child should have access to a school garden! PS Life Lab has summer camps! If you happen to live near the Santa Cruz, CA area this would be such a treat for your child during the summer! If you don’t live near Santa Cruz, CA that’s ok, do some research and find a summer camp on a farm near you!

 Sneak It In - OK you’ve tried everything with your little guy and he is still refusing to try veggies. Well, you have no choice but to sneak them in! The vital nutrients in vegetables such as calcium, fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, and so on are so important for growing little bodies! Check out our Pinterest board titled, "Sneak in the Veggies" for some great ideas!

 How are you getting your little ones to eat more veggies? Please share with us!

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